Tag Archives: wildlife conservation

I want feet like a deer, reflections from Pslam 18:33

If you read my blog from a couple weeks ago (and I KNOW all you fine readers have, right? but in case you missed it: Ready for a slow down, reflections from Psalm 90) then you’re already aware that I’ve been doing a self-study in the book of Psalm. A book that I’m falling in love with because it’s so musically written & “flowy” (is “flowy” a word??? Who knows? but I dig it!). While studying chapter 18 this scripture leapt out at me…

“He makes my feet like the feet of deer, and sets me on my high places”

-Psalm 18:33-(NKJV)

**By the way** Don’t cha’ totally love my word play??? leapt/deer…get it??? Smooth!

Anyways, (refocus) If I have read this scripture before, I’ve never noticed it. It’s pretty unassuming, but to an animal-studied-nerd, like myself, wow…this is a good one!

Deer feet. No doubt you don’t have to be in student loan debt to realize that, yeah, deer feet are important to deer. But do you know that, hands down, hooves are the MOST IMPORTANT part of deer anatomy??? untitled

Deer are flight animals, meaning they run from perceived danger, they’re lovers not fighters. Those skinny little toothpick legs carry a few hundred pounds gracefully at 40mph; they can leap about 8 feet high & the hooves are designed in such a way that they take the brunt of all that force. Pretty impressive, huh??

Without getting too technical & for the sake of this blog illustration, let’s break the hoof down into two simple parts; we’ll call it the “outer” & the “bottom” (creative, thank you very much). Most people know that deer are cloven hooved animals, meaning they have two toes, not one single toe-like a horse. God in his infinite wisdom designed them that way knowing the wide variety of terrain they’d be covering. That design allows them to cover everything from swimming in deep water, to scaling a mountain. The hard outer wall of the hoof is made of keratin (the same stuff as your fingernails) this helps them claw, paw, dig & fight; bottom part is a soft, spongy material that helps them grip slippery surfaces. Pretty cool that when you see a herd of deer running & leaping, they really don’t know what’s on the other side of those leaps, but rarely do they slip & fall. Flight animals cannot survive without their legs, the hoof is the first line of defense to protecting the legs & in turn, the entire being.

I’m in awe of the responsibility that hooves have.

“He makes my feet like the feet of deer, and sets me on my high places” -Psalm 18:33-

This chapter in Psalm was written by David wrote after the Lord delivered him from his enemies & Saul (who was out for blood!). David was in a tough spot, he had no idea how he was going to get out of the mess he found himself in. He prayed with a ferocity & the Lord saved him, not in a way he was expecting, for the Lord didn’t rescue him from the mess but equipped him with strength & abilities David didn’t know he had…and he conquered & gave the glory back to God. The NET version goes,”He gives me the agility of a deer; he enables me to negotiate the rugged terrain”. You may not think you’re equipped to negotiate the rugged terrain in your life & it may look impossible, but the Lord has equipped you to be a conqueror.

So next time you feel overwhelmed, look at your feet & see yourself has having the feet of deer!

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And yet another example of why people should never attempt at turning an exotic animal into a “pet”…

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The good thing about having a blog is I can voice my opinion in a controlled environment in an attempt at a well-thought out debatable essay, especially when the topic is controversial & most people like the sound of their own spouting rather than say something worthy & substantial. Which is why I urge everyone to start a blog, it’s much cheaper than therapy & you reduce the number of people you want to shake & say, “really???” Everyone has an opinion, however, not everyone’s opinion is informative. Most are emotional & not factually based.

Recently in my hometown a spider monkey was euthanized after biting a human, without getting into specifics (you can look it up on Fox 8 Cleveland’s website) the outrage is getting a little ridiculous & in my opinion, the anger is severely displaced. I have worked in the animal industry for 12 years professionally & have earned several degrees over the course of that time all animal related (with the exception of a Business degree thrown in). While I by no means claim to be an expert, in fact, I’m humbled & excited by how much I have yet to learn, I do have a little more experience with the industry than most people voicing an emotional opinion. I have worked with horses, livestock, reptiles, domesticated, avian, wildlife, aquatics, pocket pets, & exotics. I have personally worked with spider monkeys both in a zoo facility & an exotic animal rehabilitation center, not to mention the rotation I did during college where I worked in the vet department of an animal testing facility that tested on Spider & Capuchin Monkey’s (don’t get me started on that!) When I say that these animals are NOT meant to be pets, that’s not an exaggeration.

I’m not here to bash the owner or all the supporters of the owner, their actions (or lack thereof) speak for themselves. It was an unfortunate situation with heartbreaking results & I’m sure after the emotion has died down, the owner(s) will realize the role they played in this situation & I’m trusting will not make the same decisions again. Whether it’s a domesticated animal or an exotic animal, when you choose to bring one into your home you have a responsibility to that animal to keep it safe. That includes obeying all laws, following all regulations & being knowledgeable about the animal that trusts you.

As I’m sure most of you amazing readers know, several years ago a guy let loose dozens of exotic animals onto the streets of Zanesville, Ohio. After that incident people were OUTRAGED over the destruction & mass killing of several of these animals…all senselessly. There is always good that can come from every situation and Ohio started adapting stricter exotic animal laws to more safely regulate what people can own & the standards by which they have to house these animals. Ohio went from being the worst (no exaggeration) state to being one of the most regulated. Ohio even created a whole department within the Department of Agriculture to regulate, monitor & fine private & public organizations and owners who have chosen to own exotic animals. While it has been costly for owners & organizations it also has cut down on people owning exotic animals & regulates how many animals a rescue can financially support. I know it may seem like another Government interference but (to me) it’s common sense to monitor this trend that is way out of control & long overdue.

People should not own exotic animals to keep as pets, ever! And you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone that works in the animal field to disagree. God created all things for a very specific purpose & when people try to change that purpose, senseless things like the recent Spider Monkey euthanasia happen. Love plays a big part on why people decide to incorporate an exotic animal into their home; they “love” a certain animal species, so naturally they want to own it. This doesn’t make sense to me. You “love” something, so you decide to keep it from living out its God designed purpose? Not to mention it’s a selfish way to think. Because YOU decide that YOU want to own an exotic animal YOU get one. You’re putting your needs before the welfare of the animal. The very essence & definition of love is putting somebody else’s needs above your own. The very animal that you decide to own can teach you that lesson by observing it in a natural environment; a mama bear will always protect her cubs before thinking about her safety.

My best-bud & greatest workout personal trainer I’ve ever had is my dog, Waylon, an Australian Cattle Dog. This dog loooooooves to be outdoors & is the epitome of energy! And I adore him for that. But Australian Cattle Dogs are designed to do exactly what their name implies. They herd cattle. This is their purpose in life, their instinct. What God has created them to do. I’m responsible for stealing his joy, on a daily basis, because I don’t fulfill that need in my dog. Is my dog happy…absolutely. Is he well taken care of…you’ve never met a dog more spoiled. But the level of happiness Waylon would achieve if getting that need met daily is nothing that I can provide him right now. He gets spurts of that activity; many chances to “herd” horses around the farm, squirrels & chipmunks are a daily roundup, he even “herds” me when we’re out on our daily walks/runs. As his owner, someone who he puts his trust in, it is my responsibility to make sure that instinct is met…and I fail at this, I’m 100% to blame & it is a selfish act on my part because I wanted this rescue dog. Just like other fellow dog owners who fail at this if they don’t provide the same opportunity with their dogs & their instinctual purposes. The difference is, these are “domesticated” animals. Through years of evolving, dogs are no longer wild & now know their place within the hierarchy of a human family unit. Exotic animals will never be domesticated, it’s a scientific fact. And even if some mutant gene forms & they do become domesticated, it will never be in our generation or in our great-great-great-gazillion great grandkid’s generation. When humans interfere too much with changing Mother Nature, we do more harm than good. She’s been around a lot longer than we have & is a hell of a lot smarter than we are. Believe it or not but humans are not entitled to own everything on this planet just because we “want” it, there are some things that don’t belong to us. Every time you support a company that does research using animals by purchasing their products, every time you buy an animal from a breeder instead of adopting or not spaying/neutering your pet, every time you pay money to watch animals being put on display (circus’s, rodeo’s) you are selfishly contributing to the destruction of mother nature. I’m guilty of this as well, it will forever be a lifetime of choices that you have to make. Not one person can save the world, but everybody can do their small contribution & that does add up.

I’m very passionate about animal rights, especially on rescue/rehabilitation work (not buying from breeders, spaying/neutering, etc.) & exotic animal rights. When you work in the industry you see the effects that human’s selfishness & stupidity can cause. If I was friends with myself, I would be annoyed with myself when I get on a soapbox about it. I know that I can nag about this topic, but it’s because it’s so important. Think about something you’re passionate about, something you’re willing to fight for…can you really nag it enough? I would rather beat this topic to death than know it’s going on & remain silent. Many times I’ve prayed to not know some of the things that I know & to not have seen some of things I’ve witnessed because the weight of the problem can seem overwhelming, especially when people don’t seem to care or heed your advice. But in those moments I’m reminded of the animals I’ve seen emaciated, beaten, left to freeze to death on frozen ground, of the animals I’ve personally had to put to death because people have chosen to buy from a breeder and/or not spay & neuter. The exotic animals behind cages who were meant to roam freely, the lab animals injected with cancer-causing agents so humans can get the right scent of body wash & the poaching of game who were unfortunate enough to be born with a much desired delicacy. If people are made aware of the problems, they cannot claim ignorance. Whether or not they choose to do something about their contribution to the problem is up to them & therefore the responsibility of that decision, good or bad, also falls on them. If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.
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Book Report: “WoodSong” by Gary Paulsen

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I love, love, LOVE this book!

I wish I had waited a couple weeks before I wrote the blog on my top 10 favorite, https://chapstickchatter.wordpress.com/2013/12/21/my-top-10-favorite-books-of-all-time/,because this memoir would’ve been on it! No idea how or when this quick read ended up in my bookcase, but I’m disappointed that I took so long to pick it up to read!

Not a big book, less than 150 pages, & I knocked it out in a couple hours on a snowed-in afternoon. WoodSong is one page-turning adventure! It’s the true life, hard-to-believe-it’s-actually-nonfiction memoirs of author Gary Paulsen (Hatchetf, Dogsong, The Winter Room, etc) & his life running a sled-dog team, training for the Iditarod.

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The first half of the book tells how the author first got interested in dog sledding; the trials, hit & misses, ignorance, mistakes that he made as his passion grew. This is one of the best novels I’ve ever read on wildlife conservation & the relationships between pets & their owners. The author wrote with such honesty & rawness over his own misunderstanding at nature & her unforgiving spirit. He also is openly candid at admitting his many failures, mistakes & ignorance at owning a team of intelligent, high-strung working dogs. The regret with which he wrote about at “ruining” some of these dogs over his lack of knowledge is something that, those of us who work & have worked in the animal industry, have seen first hand way to many times.

I was not bored or lost interest on any page of this novel. I laughed outloud in several parts describing his mistakes & how the dogs corrected him, I bawled over the words he wrote on the death of his favorite sled dog, Storm & I found myself saying,”sooooo true” in agreement with him over the ways in which man destroys wildlife & nature.

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The second half of the novel was about his weeks running the Iditarod dog sled race held annually in Alaska. A grueling 1150mile course through unforgiving mountains, backcountry wilderness & heavy waterways. Mushers & dogs work as a team to finish in less than two weeks time. It was fascinating to read behind the scenes on what really happens, the non-televised versions; deaths, hallucinations, sleep & hunger depravity, injuries, & basic survival instincts kicking in for both man & animal. I read with captivity. Truly is a testimony on what the body goes through when pushed to the brink of competition, with others & yourself.

If you’re a nature-freak, survivalist, animal lover, dog obsessed, conservationist or adventure seeker you’ll love this book! It’s a super fast, easy read full of honest & raw, non-exaggerated writing. The author is a natural teacher who simplifies his passion for readers & conveys his love for wildlife & environmental conservation, as well as, animal rights.

If I could rate this higher than 5 stars On Goodreads I would!
*WoodSong book trailor* http://youtu.be/xgIIs5peyLI

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Random Questions: If you could have dinner with 7 famous people, dead or alive, who would they be & where would they sit?

It’s Wednesday, which means its my blog day. After my near-death-almost-met-Jesus-last night experience; thanks to my car brakes bombing out on me while driving home, I needed a “fun” blog to occupy my mind.

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For starters, I’d choose the location to be somewhere chill & relax. For me, the most relaxing place in the world would be a cabin, in the woods, up in the mountains. So, I’m thinking the mountains of the great-West; Montana, Washington State, Utah, Idaho. Outside under the stars (no bugs to bother us, of course), a fire going & a table full of fresh homemade bread, wine, bowls of my Grandma Cooper’s potato soup, lots of fresh vegetables & different kinds of cheesecake for dessert, along with my Grandma Martinez’s pistachio muffins & copious amounts of organic green tea when the discussion goes on until the early morning hours (and it’s a given that everyone is to bring their dogs to lounge around at our feet).  Can you really have a more perfect evening than that? Not to me!

Some of my 7 dinner guests were relatively easy to pick. Others I bounced around on. What I did notice was all my picks were (mostly) scientists or religious figures. Makes sense because those are the two things that I seem to be in battle about. I love the Lord & am a proud follower of Christ, but at times I find the Bible & its teachings so far-fetched that its hard for me to wrap my mind around (God talking thru burning bushes-that don’t burn up, floods that destroy the whole earth, armies that go into battle with just music…c’mon that’s almost like drug-induced, hippy-dreams, right there!).

Regardless, I’m pretty satisfied with my final-7. Although, she’s not “famous” by world-standards, I’d love to add my Great-Grandma Henderson to this list. I’ve never met her, but from the stories that I’ve heard I can’t imagine that I wouldn’t have fallen in love with this lovely lady (country lady to the core!). A few years ago I had a dream about her (my dreams are always vivid, very real, & incredibly wacky) & that dream brought a conversation with her that I still cherish. She loved the Lord, so I know I’ll get to continue that conversation with her again one day. That’s the most comforting thing about God’s promises, its knowing you’ll be reunited with those you lost during your time on Earth & those that you never met, but still have shaped & prayed for you.

If you could have dinner with 7 famous people (dead or alive), who would you pick & where would they sit?

steve-irwin1.- Steve Irwin: I have been a Steve Irwin fan for as long as he’s been on television. I actually remember the very first episode of his show that I saw on Animal Planet (truth!) & my “Kennedy” moment (you know, everyone always remembers exactly what they were doing when Kennedy was shot) was his death. Aside from the fact that he was entertaining, I thought he was a brilliant TEACHER with the way he explained & broke things down, simplified. Such an advocate for wildlife conservation & what you saw was what you got. I’ve read all of his biographies/auto & still watch his show(s) on re-run whenever I can catch them. *Side-note, no matter how much his popularity & net worth grew, him & his wife lived in the same split-level, $30k fixer-upper they bought when they first married. His personal salary was averaged out to that of a zookeepers & anything made above that he put into his wildlife conservation organizations & various other organizations he supported*.

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2. Pastor Joel Osteen: Pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, TX. My Grandma & Papa Cooper actually got me interested in watching him on television. I was hooked! This led to reading most of his books (haven’t read his latest) & several of his devotionals have made it into my library. Regardless if you’re a believer or not, watch him for his positivity & joy, its contagious. The enthusiasm he radiates is what the world needs more of. You can tell he’s on FIRE for Christ & has a true passion for leading people to Him. One of the items on my “Life List” is to attend one of his Sunday morning church services at Lakewood (a trip to Texas is always needed!).

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3. John Lennon: I don’t really think I need much of an explanation why I’d have John Lennon at my table, he’s John Lennon. Period. End of Discussion.

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4. Charles Darwin: He grew up very Christian, in a Christian home, but he had a deep love for nature & that caused him to question a lot of his beliefs. He came up with Natural Selection & the Theory of Evolution…to be able to have a discussion with him would blow my mind. And to have him on a panel with spiritual leaders would be an amazing discussion to watch (because I certainly wouldn’t be able to follow his thinking, way beyond what my mind can comprehend). *Side-note, Steve Irwin’s turtle, Harriet, was one of Charles Darwin’s famous Galapagos turtles that he studied while coming up with his Theory of Evolution… Mind-blown!*

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5. Sarah: from the Bible. King David was originally on my list, but I kept coming back to Sarah (Abraham’s wife). She has been a key-figure for me over the last few years as someone I can relate to, biblically. God put a desire in her heart-she doubted & took matters into her own hands, it (obviously) was a train-wreck, but eventually that promise still came true-in God’s timing, despite her trying to control it herself. What a lesson! I’d love to be able to thank her, hear her advice, & listen to her testament on faith. Be like talking to your Grandma, one who has weathered all the hard parts of life.

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6. Anna Sewell: author of Black Beauty. When I was in 4th or 5th grade, my Aunt Pennye, gave me Island of the Blue Dolphin, Where the Red Fern Grows, & Black Beauty to read as I was recovering from a surgery. Where the Red Fern Grows & Black Beauty remain as my top favorite books of all time & have had huge impacts in shaping the course of my beliefs & life. I’d love to have a discussion with the author of a book that introduced this young child to the horrors of animal-abuse & how everything can heal with patience, compassion, & love. I still remember bawling my eyes out & hiding this book in my closet because I didn’t even want to look at it, I was so heart-broken by the way Beauty was treated. This novel was the first (and only) novel written by an invalid & very sick Anna who died days after it was first published. One of my most treasured possessions is an early edition of this novel, from 1895 that I picked up at a friends antique store for $4.

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7. Snoop Dogg: okay, quit laughing Smile I’m not a fan of rap music, at all. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever really listened to Snoop Dogg’s music (although, I did watch his show Fatherhood…hi-larious!), but I am a fan of him! He is one smart cookie & every time I read anything he’s done or see him on television it makes me laugh & then go, “brilliant!”. He’d be sitting right next to me at dinner, for the sheer fact that I’d want to catch every little sarcastic gem he says. I love that he’s so “REAL” & his attitude is, “F**k it! This is me, take it or leave it”. He’s so chill & cool (possibly because of the mad amounts of weed he smokes), but hey, I dig it!

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One Thousand Gifts…Week 3

41- “I love you” texts from my Dad

42- experienced & skilled surgeons, surgical staff, & nurses

43- God’s hand of healing & comfort when I feel out-of-control

44- cuddling up with my Grandma’s afghan after a long, stressful day

45-cupcakes from Sweets by Maggie. Smile sweetsbymaggie1

46- my brother Luke, & the funny ways he makes me laugh

47- coming home to a meal cooking all day in the crock-pot & the way it makes your house smell like delicious-ness

48- my dad’s best-friend of 35 (plus) years & the loyalty & friendship our family shares with him.

49- receiving letters of encouragement in the mail

50- surprise bonus checks from work

51- male cardinals sitting on tree-branches on a snowy day

52- coupons!

53- baby dedication days at church

54- news that my dad’s feeling better after days of being up & down

prayerbracelet55- unexpected gifts from my mom (my prayer bracelet)

56- a finished work project

57- the excitement my dog shows when he receives a new chewy

58- baking homemade bread!

59- knowing my dad’s resting comfortably at home & no longer in the hospital

60- Beer & popcorn for dinner

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Animal Protection Laws: How does your state rank???

Definitely worth sharing! Proud of my home state of Ohio for rising above the bottom (as we’ve been for so many years). As with most change, it took some heavy consequences before we wised up to change our wildlife & animal regulation laws, but we did! I’d love to see the whole map a bright shade of green one day!

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